So there was tomfoolery.
In the wee hours of March 31, 2020, Senator Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) made this statement in the Capitol to the South Dakota Senate, then convened electronically, in response to a motion from Senator Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) seeking an investigation of Senator Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids) for legislating while drunk:
Senator Jensen and everybody who’s listening in, I just want to assure you that I’ve been with the Senator for the balance of the evening, and the hour is extraordinarily late. Everybody’s a little bit punchy, but we have… we have not… we have not overindulged, we have not indulged. I just… I just want to set the record straight, lest there be any confusion, about six and a half hours ago, if I’m not mistaken, we recessed. Beyond that, there’s been no tomfoolery. I… I… I don’t know what the Senator bases his allegations on, but, I just want to assure you that we’ve been doing the people’s business throughout the entirety of the day. We’re about seventeen hours into our—in fact, we’re beyond that, we’re about eighteen and a half hours into our Legislative day, and I, I want to assure the public that the Senator has been nothing but professional throughout the day and want to put to rest any concerns that there are. We are a very professional body and I don’t want there to be any concerns or any, any unaddressed issues that would go forward. So with that I’m asking for… I’m asking for your indulgence in allowing us to adjourn sine die or sine die as Senator Curd has pointed out that’s properly pronounced, and as the President of the Senate has pointed out, any such motion has to be presented in writing, and so I don’t think that’s able to be accomplished and I just ask for your indulgence in allowing us to go ahead an adjourn sine die [Senator Brock Greenfield, statement to South Dakota Senate, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.03.31].
Yesterday, at the beginning of the Senate Interim Investigatory Committee’s second day of hearing the matter of Greenfield’s and Langer’s alleged drunkenness on duty, Senator Langer made this statement:
During the Senate’s break, we left the Capitol and had alcohol while waiting for the House chamber to finish their legislation. We wish to apologize for this bad judgment on our part and for any delay this may have brought about for other members. Please accept our deepest apology and know that we are committed to continuing to serve with you in the future interest of our state and its citizens [Sen. Kris Langer, statement to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.04.24].
Senator Greenfield immediately followed Senator Langer with this statement:
I would echo the sentiments shared by Senator Langer. I too apologize. I am truly sorry for even placing myself in a setting that allowed for questions as to my judgment or my state of mind. Moreover, I am sorry for the time and energy that so many people have spent dealing with this matter. Especially in these current times, there is important work to do for the people of South Dakota and I am hopeful that we can all focus moving forward [Sen. Brock Greenfield, statement to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.04.24].
Those are pretty thin apologies. Neither Senator directly admits drunkenness or disruption of Legislative proceedings. But even without getting into yesterday’s damning testimony—House Majority Leader Lee Qualm’s statement that “there’s no doubt in my mind that both of them were drunk“; Representative Oren Lesmeister’s statement that “they were intoxicated that night” and that while Greenfield was able to carry on a conversation, Langer had “very slurred speech and had trouble finishing sentences“; House Speaker Steven Haugaard’s statement that Langer was “not able to communicate an intelligent thought” that night at the Capitol; Haugaard’s statement that Greenfield’s “speech was thick and slurred“; Haugaard’s statement that Greenfield admitted to him on April 1 that Greenfield and Langer had been out drinking before the Session adjourned at lobbyist Dean Krogman’s house with lobbyists Brian Gosch, Justin Bell, and Katie Sieverding and with Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden—Langer’s and Greenfield’s words yesterday make clear that they disrespected the Legislature and the people of South Dakota not just with their drinking but with Greenfield’s lying about it.
- we have… we have not… we have not overindulged, we have not indulged—Lie: you indulged in drinking alcohol.
- about six and a half hours ago, if I’m not mistaken, we recessed. Beyond that, there’s been no tomfoolery. Lie: you fooled around with alcohol and came back to the Capitol unfit for duty.
- I don’t know what the Senator bases his allegations on—Lie: you knew exactly what Senator Jensen based his allegations on. You were at Krogman’s house, you drank, you saw Senator Langer drink, and you both came back to the Capitol visibly and audibly impaired.
- we’ve been doing the people’s business throughout the entirety of the day—Lie: drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house is not doing the people’s business.
- the Senator has been nothing but professional throughout the day—Lie. Drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house, delaying the resumption of Legislative business, and showing up to work with alcohol in your system is not professional.
- We are a very professional body—Lie. Professionals don’t drink until they are done with their workday.
- I don’t want there to be any concerns or any, any unaddressed issues that would go forward—Lie. You resisted the motion to investigate concerns and wanted the issue of your drinking on the job to go unaddressed.
Lies, Brock. Lies. How dare you, Brock? How dare you lie to the Senate? How dare you lie to the people?
The speciousness of your “apology” is disgusting in itself. You suggest that the time and energy “so many people” have spent dealing with your drunkenness and lying would have been better spent on the important issues of the day. But while one of your Legislative colleagues lay dying of coronavirus, the outbreak of which prompted the emergency legislation that kept the Legislature working for all those extra hours on Veto Day, you spent your time and energy drinking to excess with lobbyists. So how dare you try to lace your “apology” with a passive-aggressive lecture on priorities when you yourself perhaps literally pissed six hours of that important day down your leg in pursuit of booze?
But the lies, the outright lies—you lied to us, Brock.
Luckily for Brock and Kris, the Legislature doesn’t mind lies. The committee let Greenfield and Langer’s attorney, former Attorney General Marty Jackley, hoot and holler them away from the central issue by hammering away that there were no blood alcohol tests and no breath tests and no alcohol actually brought into the Capitol and so no laws broken. They acknowledged that brought shame and disrespect upon the Legislature, then let them off with an “admonishment” not to create any future appearances of possible insobriety:
Although it does not appear that there was any violation of the law or of Legislative Joint Rule 1A-3 on the evening of the 37th Legislative Day because there was no consumption of alcohol within the area of the Capitol building, we believe your presence in the Capitol on that legislative day while you appeared to be impaired, violated Joint Rule 1B-1 which requires all legislators to refrain from conduct that is unbecoming to the legislature and inconsistent with a legislator’s obligation to maintain the trust and respect of the people we serve.
Therefore, you are hereby admonished and cautioned to in the future not appear in the Capitol when questions could be raised as to your state of sobriety [Senate Interim Investigatory Committee report, in Bob Mercer, “Panel Admonishes S.D. Senate Republican Leaders Langer, Greenfield for Intoxication,” KELO-TV, 2020.04.24].
Senator Brock Greenfield boozed it up with lobbyists, showed up at the Capitol impaired by his boozing, and then lied about it in Session, on video, to all of South Dakota. Brock Greenfield lied to us, and the Legislature will do nothing about it. Neither will the voters of District 2, who nominated no one else to run for his Senate seat.
You lied to us, Brock. You lied, and you get to remain a Senator. Congratulations.